J.D. Martinez seems resigned to being dealt by the Boston Red Sox before the 6 p.m. Tuesday trade deadline. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

HOUSTON — August broke with the Boston Red Sox in Houston, getting ready for three games against the Astros. Houston had been the hottest team in baseball but suddenly stumbled last week, losing 4 of 7 games in a stretch that saw them swept by the lowly Oakland A’s.

The Astros were busy adding to their roster, while the Red Sox started to move some pieces. Houston traded for Trey Mancini of the Orioles and made a deal with the Red Sox for Christian Vazquez. Another name appearing in trade rumors is Boston’s J.D. Martinez.

That tells you everything you need to know about the different directions these two teams have gone since meeting in last year’s American League Championship Series. The Astros hold a 12-game lead in the AL West and are hot on the heels of the New York Yankees in the race for the league’s best record.

The Red Sox are in last place, 18 games out in the AL East. They’re in seventh place in the wild-card race. They are coming off an 8-19 July, one of the worst months in team history.

A month ago, when the Red Sox were on the heels of a 20-6 June, it was easy to dream about President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom adding a big bat or a power arm to complement a roster that seemed poised to make a run into October.

Now, he’s entertaining phone calls about players he may sell off. And some of the players who brought the Sox within two wins of the World Series last year are coming to grips that their time with Boston could be ending soon.


“It’s tough, dude,” Martinez said on Sunday. “It feels like we’re fighting for our lives, you know? Fighting to keep the band together.”

Martinez talked about memories of Boston in a subdued Sox clubhouse. And this was after a 7-2 win over Milwaukee that featured eight doubles by the Red Sox, the most in a game by the team in nearly a year.

“I gave everything, my heart and soul, to the Red Sox,” Martinez said. It didn’t sound like a guy who planned on being on the charter home from this seven-game trip.

The cost of adding pieces to this team has grown dramatically in the past month. What would it take to make this team a true contender? A first baseman for sure. An outfielder? How many pitchers?

Injuries have exposed the lack of depth that this team has at the moment. Bloom has vowed to build up that depth, and has already improved the farm system by leaps and bounds. But how much of that depth is major league ready?

The Red Sox have looked inexperienced and overmatched against elite competition in recent weeks. Franchy Cordero had a three-error game on Tuesday, just the second time a Red Sox first baseman has done that since 1945. And that game came four days after an inside-the-park grand slam that saw Jarren Duran give up on a ball that sat on the warning track while runners rounded the bases.


The Astros have been the American League’s most consistent team in recent years. They’ve been to the postseason and won at least one playoff series in six of the last seven years.

The Red Sox have played postseason baseball in four of those seasons, winning it all in 2018. But they suffered through one of their worst seasons ever in the pandemic-shortened season of 2020, and are in last place again.

They’re caught somewhere between contending and rebuilding, despite having one of the highest payrolls in the game. A franchise that already traded away a generational talent in Mookie Betts will now be facing more painful roster decisions.

On Sunday, Martinez signed baseballs and caps for fans near the dugout before heading in to shower and boarding the team bus. It was highly unusual to see a player signing autographs after a game.

Then again, this has been a highly unusual season for the Sox.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. He is a graduate of Lewiston High School.

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